Batman 400

I was a Batman fan from my very earliest years but this love got seriously out of hand in the late 80s when almost overnight I started spending actual thousands on comics (an example of why I could never do recreational drugs. I'd develop a killer habit). You'd have thought, given that at the time I was still sharing the marital bed with my dad following the breakdown of my parents' marriage, that I might've put some of that money into buying myself my own bed.

I'd grown up with (and gradually outgrown) UK comics before finally getting into the American scene, although I vividly remember being so shocked by 'The Killing Joke' in April '88 that I stayed away from Marvel and DC comics for a good six months. I had been troubled by how dark that graphic novel had been. I had no idea at the time that US comics were moving in a new dark and adult direction by that time, spearheaded by many British creators. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do and a year later, I was the youngest writer at the London Cartoon Centre in west London where some of these creators were actually teaching.

Anyway, this cover art for Batman 400 by Bill Sienkiewicz introduced the new-look quite frightening Joker, a look taken on by Brian Bolland on 'The Killing Joke' and not long after, and perhaps to a whole new darker level, by Dave McKean on 'Arkham Asylum' whose cover was so stunning, I had a copy blown up and framed in the halcyon summer of '89.

The comic habit came to an end in the early 90s. I felt the industry had exploited its readers on the back of the '89 Batman film. That multiple covers collection thing was never for me. But I'll never forget all those Friday nights staying up in bed (trying to keep the lamp out of my dad's eyes) immersed in my comics.

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